Email Connects the World
Protect Your Children
As the world becomes more and more interconnected with each day, it is to be expected that people would naturally want to be at the forefront of new and emerging technologies. While email addresses aren't necessarily 'new', they do represent one form of communication that has brought with it many benefits, as well as, lingering concerns especially for parents. Along with the innate desire to be socially connected through email, email addresses may actually be a requirement for your children in order to register for various accounts, whether through a social medium like Facebook or for an acadamic necessity. Rather than restrict children from obtaining an email address, there are a few things parents can know and do that can significantly decrease the chance of harm resulting from this type of social connection.
Watch Your Children
Supervision is Key
As a parent, there are ways that you can maintain safety for your child, while also allowing them to engage in emailing. Because many elements of society rely on a child having an email address, the best proven approach has been to provide supervision whenever possible. You will have to decide, as a parent, at what age you can begin lessening your supervision over your child while they email or surf the web. At least initially, computers or laptops should be set up in an open room where parents can closely watch and observe their children's behavior online. Not only can doing this allow for a child to ask questions regarding such issues as spelling and grammar, but they can also ask questions about other elements of emailing that they may not understand. Prior to sending an email, you may want to consider screening it so that you know exactly what it is that your children are sharing with others.
Have a Conversation
Talk to Your Children
Email can be a tremendous way to quickly share thoughts and ideas with others. Rather than wait days for snail mail to arrive at its destination, anyone can sign up for a free email address, send an email, and reach others thousands of miles away. Even still, some email accounts have generally fallen prey to outrageous spam attacks. No matter how well known the email account you are using is, few email services aren't, at one time or another, completely immune from these attack. While your children may have a fundamental understanding of internet safety, it is important that you continually reinforce to them how they should never open an email from someone they don't know. Children should be taught to put their natural curiosities aside, refuse to open certain emails, and they should be trained to go through the proper protocol to delete these emails and/or send them to the SPAM folder.
Before you allow your children to use email, you should strongly consider sitting down with them, having a conversation, and even show them what exactly proper internet behavior looks like. You can take them to the computer, and walk them through different functionality available in their email account. Are they unfamiliar with how to delete messages or respond to email messages? Showing them and communicating with them is the single best way to ensure their online safety.
No Personal Information
Do Not Include
Included in your instructions to your children regarding safe email usage should be the fact that they should never share personal information under any circumstances. Such information that should never be shared includes items such as your home address, their phone number, or social security number. While adults are typically in a better position to make a judgment call regarding whether to give out any one of these pieces of information, a parent may want to consider taking a very strict approach to controlling what information your children is actually sharing. This is just one reason why a parent may want to occasionally screen emails that are being sent out by your children from their email accounts.
The sharing of personal information is something that is very serious and should be discussed with a child prior to using an email account. Beyond discussing it, this should also be reinforced because children occasionally forget or get lost in the excitement of things going around them.
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